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 October 23rd, 2008  
St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announces 35 arrests in Craig’s List web prostitution sting
Here’s a warning from St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara to prostitutes, pimps and their customers using the popular Craig’s List web site to set up illegal “dates” in St. Lucie County: You may wind up going to jail.

“It’s an open secret that people are using Craig’s List for prostitution,” Sheriff Mascara said. “In a three-day undercover operation that began last month, our detectives, with the assistance of the Port St. Lucie police, arrested 35 people.”

Some were charged with soliciting prostitution (a misdemeanor) and others were charged with deriving income from prostitution (a felony.) Still others were charged with procuring prostitutes (a misdemeanor.)

Port St. Lucie police detectives used agency surveillance equipment to provide technical support to St. Lucie County deputies in the operation. “This is another example of our agencies working together on criminal cases,” Sheriff Mascara said.

Deputies posing as customers for prostitution used the Craig’s List web site to arrange for the services of prostitutes, Sheriff Mascara said. The undercover deputies arranged to meet the prostitutes at one of three hotels in St. Lucie County. Prostitutes were arrested, in some cases implicating their pimps, who also were arrested.

The operation took place Sept. 18, Oct. 2 and Oct. 17.

In other cases, undercover deputies placed ads in Craig’s List and arrested would-be prostitution customers.

One of those arrested, Lisa Savoy, had a “little black book” with names of more than a dozen customers, and deputies are investigating the names in the book.

Detectives found the “erotic” listings in Craig’s List in surfing the Internet looking for illegal activities, Sheriff Mascara said. In addition, members of the public have complained to the Sheriff’s Office about those listings in Craig’s List.

The web site contains a disclaimer that the site is not to be used for illegal activities, but it appears people are blatantly ignoring that prohibition, Sheriff Mascara said.

“In the past few years, we have arrested hundreds of sexual predators using Internet chat rooms to try to exploit children sexually,” Sheriff Mascara said. “The recent operation of Internet-based prostitution is another example of the illegal use of the Internet for sexual exploitation. Whether people arrange for prostitution on street corners or over the Internet, it’s still prostitution, and it’s still illegal.”

Almost everyone detectives arrested in the operation admitted their illegal activities in interviews with the detectives after being taken into custody.

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